Don’t get me wrong. I’m not some privacy conspiracy theorist. I have nothing to hide (kind of). I will trade private data for information like a blind lemming going over Mt. Everest. Especially if the wonderful Internet machine delivers me information or offers or entertainment that I really like. Unfortunately, it’s not really working out like that. Instead of getting news about a new Sun Ra album coming in to a record store I’ve never heard of that’s just six miles from my home, I get more Facebook feeds alerting me to the wonders of Bonobos. Instead of getting an update on a new Indian restaurant that has hand made mango chutney and a reasonable all you can eat curry lunch, I get more news about Bonobos. Instead of big brother telling me about a cheap flight to a great family vacation spot in Martinique, you get it — Bonobos.
The Facebook has become like watching Days of Our Lives in 1982. Full of ads for stuff I hate. That makes me hate both The Facebook and Days of Our Lives.
And makes me wonder how much more I’m going to be willing to open my kimono wide to every data mining pirate out there who has the galleons to buy, beg, or steal my clicks?
Can they just toss me something that is remotely relevant — news, say, of a free-form uke jam session at a bar with single malt whisky?
Oh, and by the way, what is a Bonobo?
In the ongoing Shakespearian tragedy that is the marketing saga of the JC Penney company (see my March 1 post), a new ad I saw last night is truly breaking new ground in the industry. As you must know by now, in an epic market, well, kerfuffle is too kind a word (2 billion lost sales or something, whacked C.E.O., zillions out of work, head of Apple Stores brought low, etc.) this department store chain has finally done something creative. They have apologized for their boneheaded marketing thinking and are begging people to come back to their stores. On TV.
I couldn’t believe it. As a student of the business, this is like the discovery of a new species of lilac is to a botanist. Why?
Where other companies have used the “we F-d up” copy strategy recently — most notably Dominos coming out and saying they were making cardboard pizzas with traces of poison in them, or something like that — those were usually unintended screw ups they were apologizing for. Or, as your four year old might say, “It was an accident!!! It’s not my fault!!”
Where Penney takes this to a whole other level is where they say — “we did it, we thought we were being smart but we were being STUPIDO.” And then, they top it by BEGGING people to come back and see them.
And, as an extra dollop of pitiful, they do all this with a slew of images from the previous commercials that put them in all this trouble in the first place. So, if those people who hated the ads in the first place just happened to see them without paying too much attention — THEY’D THINK THEY WERE SEEING THEM AGAIN!!!
Maybe they should have just shown a shot of a broken vase with a kid sucking his thumb.
I hate to keep harping on this big data thing. I know it can add clarity and understanding and in our completely interconnected interwebs world it is often the only way we can have any sense of what’s going on.
But I’m here to tell you that big data can also be used as an excuse NOT to act. There are always more numbers to get. There are always more scenarios to evaluate. We will know more in a week. A month. A year. An hour. Five minutes.
Sometimes you have to just do something. I remember picking up a very useful expression from someone, “that client is wearing a belt and suspenders.” What’s it mean? It means they are beyond cautious. They want too much validation. And they look nerdy and ugly and dumb too.
(Now, let me very very clear on this — that was for a long lost client from a million years ago who is out of business, no relation to anyone living!!!)
At any rate, as someone else said, paralysis by analysis.
Hey, sometimes you just gotta throw the pitch. See if the other guy swings. See what happens.
But, alas, the blanket of numbers is too often a security blanket we won’t let go of. And in the meantime, a world of opportunity could be passing us by. Oh, and we look real nerdy too.
I’m just sayin…